- Release Date (Japan) : July 20, 2018
- Studios : Warner Bros. Japan, New Line Cinema
Bleach (Brief) Introduction
The Bleach live action movie was released in theaters all across Japan on July 20th. Audiences have had over a week to check out the movie and decide if Tite Kubo's titular manga was done justice on the big screen. From our point of view, this film adaptation was excellent. A few things had to be changed from the manga and anime in order to reduce the length of the story arc (Substitute Shinigami Arc) and to create a narrative that could be contained in one film while leaving the possibility open for a sequel.
All of the main characters were introduced in the film and we received glimpses of Soul Society. That's about as much as we could have hoped for from this first film of the series. Ichigo, Rukia, Byakuya, Renji, Uryū, Sado, Orihime, Isshin, Urahara, and a lot more characters were given screen time. Some should have been given more time, but we'll get into that later. Byakuya served as an excellent foil to Ichigo. He demonstrated how weak and early on Ichigo is on his path to becoming strong enough to protects the people he cares about. Miyavi truly brought that character to life.
Bleach, at least the first half of the original story, was known for having great fighting scenes, emotional depth, character development, and an amazingly varied cast of characters. With such a rich and wide range not all of it could be touched on in a single movie, this much was to be expected. However, the live action film established building blocks that could potentially lead to further arcs being explored. Now let's get more specifics!
What We Liked About Bleach
The start of the film had the daunting task of creating a dark atmosphere while laying the foundation for Ichigo Kurosaki's motivations as a brother, friend, and eventual substitute Shinigami. We were introduced to Ichigo's mother in the scene where she and a young version of Ichigo were walking in the rain together. He spotted a little girl, all by herself, without her umbrella. Without a second thought, he ran out to her to lend his own umbrella. Cut away to a shot of Ichigo on the ground with his mother laying over him in a protective position while her back has suffered a deep cut and she bleeds to death. This scene is explored a little more throughout the film, but from this scene, we know that the film will have serious undertones of death, revenge, and protection of loved ones. What an emotional scene!
The action sequences in the film were top notch. Swift movement, aerial acrobatics, and meaningful strikes were interwoven into every fight. It's important that every blow a character received felt impactful and dangerous for two reasons: the main character is human and this is an introductory movie. Bleach needs to be threatened by the likes of the highly experienced Shinigami fighters and the monstrous Hollows that are eating people's souls and causing mayhem throughout the world. He's just a normal teenager (as far as the audience is concerned) so there always needs to be the looming threat of death if he receives a decisive blow.
Secondly, this is potentially the first film in a series of movies within the Bleach universe. You can't have Ichigo appear to be overpowered or scoff at gashes to his body and punches to his this early on. Watching him lose sparring matches against Rukia, take on the Grand Fisher, and his final showdown with Renji and Byakuya felt like a steady progression of fighting prowess and choreographed beauty that was fitting for a first arc.
Why You Should Watch Bleach
1. Dark Atmosphere
Even though this is an adaptation of a Shonen Jump manga, Bleach has always been on the darker side in terms of locations, themes, and tone. It's hard to stray away from that too much when a large percentage of characters are literal gods of death and the main character has a tragic past that motivates him. The film has vibrant scenes and comedic moments, but it keeps a grounded and serious tone.
2. Excellent Film Adaptation
This film took several creative liberties to tell a cohesive self-contained story in under two hours. The designs and CG for the hollows were top-notch. They didn't look too cartoony or distracting during the scenes they were featured. They were threatening and creepy to look at. Characters kept true to their anime/manga counterparts. In general, audiences praise this adaptation of the manga and we strongly agree that we're looking forward to a sequel.
Why You Should Skip Bleach
The anime has a plethora of iconic tracks that fans still love to this day. Because the anime has such an amazing OST, it's quite difficult for the movie to meet those expectations. The opening track felt dark, supernatural, and eerie. Immediately after, the film's main song "Mosquito Bite" makes its way into the movie and never leaves. It's played too many times and detracts from the soundtrack experience.
2. Lack of Foreshadowing
This is a minor grievance, but the studio could have used this opportunity to foreshadow future arcs, characters, and abilities. They had no idea how audiences would receive and critique the film. It could have been a one and down deal. So, in our opinion, they should have provided a bit more fan-service to loyal audiences. A hint at Hollow Ichigo, glimpses of other captains, an Aizen name drop, or even just a single frame of Zangetsu would have done wonders and kept people talking about this film.
We'd just like to point out one more thing to you. The ending credits state the movie as Bleach: The Substitute Shinigami Arc. So they're clearly hinting at the possibility of adapting future arcs. We hope really hope they do because this film was amazing and we're glad movie studios are putting this much passion and attention to detail when adapting anime to the big screen.
We hope you found this review informative. Thank you for reading and have a great day!